Medical Definition of Gnashing

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Gnashing: Grinding the teeth. More formally called "bruxism."

Gnashing, or bruxism, is due to clenching of the teeth other than in chewing and is associated with forceful lateral or protrusive jaw movements. This results in grinding or rubbing the teeth together.

Gnashing usually occurs during sleep. It is sometimes so excessive that it damages the occlusal surfaces of the teeth, particularly the molar teeth, and may contribute to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.

The word "gnashing" comes from the Old Norse and likely is an example of onomatopoeia, an action named for the sound associated with it.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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